The beginning of winter is always a little exciting. With holiday decorations everywhere and the first snowfall on its way, everything feels a little bit festive. One thing homeowners should not be excited about this winter, however, is the potential for an increase in utility bills. The weather in Northern New Jersey has been a little erratic these past few years, but we are undoubtedly transitioning into the cluster of colder months that will take us from 2014 into 2015. Homeowners living in Bergen County and other Northeast areas who take proper precautions to winter-proof their home may find themselves in a winter wonderland of savings, thanks to lower heating bills.
Know where you stand
The State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and its Clean Energy Program offer programs to help offset the costs of creating an energy-efficient home. As a first step, consider getting a professional home energy audit by a specially-trained and certified technician who will assess your entire home, and take inventory. After the home energy audit, you will receive a report listing recommended measures, along with financial incentives available to help you pay for the suggested improvements. The general rule of thumb is, the more energy savings measures you install, the greater the incentive you may be eligible to receive. This video will give you an idea of what to expect from a home energy audit.
Keep warm air locked in
According to the Department of Energy, drafts can increase energy use by 5%-30% annually. These leaks would likely be detected during a home energy audit. Another option that may be more affordable includes purchasing a thermal leak detector, available at many home improvement and department stores. If you want to be extra economical, you can light a candle and run it alongside your door and window frames on a windy day. If the flame flickers, you’ve found a draft. You can combat leaks from baseboards, trim and windows with do-it-yourself caulk kits and window insulator kits, available at hardware stores. To keep cold air from sneaking in along the floor, outfit doors with double-sided draft stoppers.
Keep your fireplace efficient
Before it gets too cold, have your chimney cleaned or your gas fireplace checked for leaks. Free-standing wood and pellet stoves and some newer open-fireplace models are said to be the most efficient. If you have an older, open fireplace, don’t fret — there is a solution that does not include updating your fireplace. You can essentially convert your open fireplace into a wood, pellet or gas stove with an insert. These have insulated doors and slide right into the opening of your fireplace. Talk to your utilities provider to get an idea of the potential savings that could be attached to your decision.
Odds and Ends
Small corrections can amount to big savings. Here are a few minor things you can do to maximize you winter energy efficiency.
1. Make sure any ceiling fans are rotating clockwise at low speeds, as this pulls cool air up and pushes warm air down, allowing you to lower your thermostat. Here’s a tutorial on how to change a fan’s rotations.
2. During the cold season, replace or clean your disposable furnace filters once a month for optimal airflow.
3. Adopt good thermostat habits. According to Energy.gov, turning your thermostat back 10%-15% for eight hours can save you 5%-15% a year on your heating bill. The site recommends setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home to save energy in the winter.
Maximize the money you save with these tips by opening up an interest-bearing account, such as a savings or CD! To learn about NVE’s products and services, visit our website. You can also speak with one of our knowledgeable Branch Associates by visiting your convenient neighborhood branch, or call us at 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).
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